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More Texas v. EPA

The stakes keep getting higher.

The EPA has threatened dozens of Texas refiners and chemical and plastic makers with penalties if they don’t begin taking steps to bring their air pollution permits into compliance with federal law by late December.

The blunt threat was made in a recent letter by the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator in Texas, heightening tensions in a standoff that has already reached the courts.


Last week, the agency sent letters to 74 companies, giving them until Dec. 22 to explain how they intend to obtain federally approved permits. If they miss the deadline, then the EPA will penalize them, the agency’s Dallas-based regional administrator, Al Armendariz, wrote in the letter.

This comes on the heels of AG Greg Abbott filing a brief in defense of Texas’ flex permits, and of the EPA turning its attention to natural gas wells. Whoever ultimately loses in this court battle is going to lose big, that’s very clear. I don’t have any idea who has the better legal case, but let me ask this: Does anyone truly believe that the state of Texas and the TCEQ, on their own and without any prodding from the EPA, really take the job of enforcing Clean Air Act regulations seriously? I don’t know how anyone can claim with a straight face that they do. How much that will really matter in the end is another question, however.

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